Signed, Sealed, Delivered: To The Altar will premiere on the Hallmark Movies & Mysteries channel on Sunday, July 15th at 9/8c.
Fans of the beloved series that have waited a long time for a wedding will have their wish granted! Series star Crystal Lowe, who plays the lovable Rita Haywith, sits down with us to discuss the movie, why she thought she would be fired at the beginning and how she’s now moving behind the camera to direct and produce projects.
Pop Culture Principle – What was it like getting the gang back together to start shooting Signed, Sealed, Delivered: To The Altar?
Crystal Lowe – It was so good! We are a full-on family. We love each other, we hate each other, we admire each other, we laugh at each other and we annoy each other. It’s really like a little family reunion every time. What’s cool about the fact that we shoot movies is that there is time in between for us to go and do other things and live our lives. We then come back and we have this huge catch up as to what has been going on and that part is really cool.
Pop Culture Principle – What can you tell us about the movie Signed, Sealed, Delivered: To The Altar?
Crystal Lowe – I can say that this film deals with mental health issues. It deals with the stigma behind mental health issues. It also deals with loss and what that means and hope which is always the through line of everything we do.
Pop Culture Principle – Rita has definitely grown and changed since the pilot of the series. As an actor, how have you enjoyed watching that character grow over the years?
Crystal Lowe – It’s been amazing for me as an actor. This is the longest I’ve played one character, so it’s been fascinating for me because when you start a project, you don’t know how long it’s going to go. It’s not like a film when you know exactly when the filming is going to end. It felt like I was just kind of diving into it. I mean, during the first season, I thought I was going to get fired. I felt like I didn’t know what I was doing. I felt like I wasn’t Rita and really have never played a character like this before.
The thing that was so beautiful about Rita for me is that she gave me a chance to love myself more. I always had an idea of my identity and it was wrapped up in my physical appearance and what people thought of me. It was really prominent in my life because of being in front of a camera all the time. With Rita, I got to completely take all of that down and the thing with Rita is that she’s so beautiful, she radiates anyway, but she’s not about her physical appearance all the time.
She thinks about it and she’s well put together, but it’s not about being sexy in any way and that was a big change for me and a huge growth for me. I got to be funny and I got to portray the side of me that my mother always told me that I am, so I got to do that through Rita.
Pop Culture Principle – We’ve loved watching the relationship between Norman and Rita grow over the years. Why do you think those two characters resonate so much with the fans?
Crystal Lowe – Because I think we are all a little bit Norman and Rita. I can meet the most charismatic person in the world, but they still have Norman and Rita inside of them which is that kind of terrified to talk to someone you are in love with or nervous about other people seeing the uniqueness in you. In the beginning, that’s kind of who they were, these kinds of awkward characters.
When they finally confessed their love for one another, they really started to accelerate in their growth because they finally found their kindred spirit. They found the other person who sees them for exactly who they are and loves them even more. I think that’s what we all are looking for, somebody who sees all of us just as we are and is excited about it.
Pop Culture Principle – Your work with Geoff Gustafson has been amazing. Can you tell us what it has been like working with him as these characters have grown?
Crystal Lowe – I auditioned for something else recently and it was to be part of a couple and I texted Geoff and said, “Can’t we just play everything together?” Geoff and I just have a chemistry that you can’t explain. We understand each other’s comedy, we get each other and we fully support each other in scenes. Even when we annoy each other in real life, which happens all the time because we are that close, we are in the scene 100 percent supporting each other and I think it shows. Geoff and I just have this very tight connection and we always will.
Pop Culture Principle – The friendship between Rita and Shane has also blossomed over the years. How important has Shane been to Rita’s coming into her own?
Crystal Lowe – You know what is really interesting about Shane and Rita is that I think they’ve done it to each other. They’ve really supported each other. Shane has really supported Rita and it’s great to see a woman supporting another woman on television. I was so terrified to be Rita for so long and Kristin just let me know that I could do that part and her support has been amazing. What you are seeing on screen is our friendship come alive. Kristin was there the day after my daughter was born and held her. We are very, very close. I think what you see on television is really us becoming that close.
Pop Culture Principle – From the pilot episode through the movies, Martha Williamson has allowed each character to shine in their own way. Would you agree with that?
Crystal Lowe – Indeed, I do agree. All four of us are pieces of Martha at different times in her life. I think it’s been great because she’s been able to write for each of us and reflect on her own life and give our characters that spotlight that they need to shine. I definitely think this film is very much for Rita. I really got to explore some stuff with this one.
Pop Culture Principle – As an actor, how protective are you of the character Rita Haywith?
Crystal Lowe – I’m protective of her, but I also know that she’s human and humans evolve. I don’t think it’s crazy to think that Rita evolves all the time. So, I’m not trying to keep her in a box and if I get the opportunity to play her again, I hope she continues to face challenges and overcome them or not overcome them.
I really think that so many people relate to Rita that the human aspect of ever evolving and ever changing is really beautiful to watch through her and it can help young girls evolve in their own lives and have somebody to keep looking up to. The women of Signed, Sealed, Delivered are powerful and strong and strong in their own right and unapologetic and it’s a good thing to show our little girls.
Pop Culture Principle – Do you know if this is the final Signed, Sealed, Delivered movie or will there be more?
Crystal Lowe – I have no idea. I hope it’s not, I really do because I just love my family, but I also think that if it is then I have to trust that things are happening for a reason. So, my fingers are crossed, but I have no idea.
Pop Culture Principle – When you walked down the aisle as Rita Haywith to marry Norman, did it make you think of your own wedding as well?
Crystal Lowe – I actually was not. 😊 My own wedding was literally one of the best days of my life. I had some really funny things happen at my wedding. I tripped and fell and my mom, who walked me down the aisle, was dragging me along and I had to tell her to stop. But that was my favorite part of my wedding was all the funny stuff and the screw ups.
Walking down the aisle in the movie, I was thinking that we have to finish this soon because these heels are killing my feet. It was a beautiful reunion for me and Geoff as well who had to keep telling me that the wedding wasn’t real because I was planning this or asking for that! 😊
Pop Culture Principle – You’ve moved into the field of directing, most recently with the short The Curtain. Do you see yourself doing more directing in the near future and if there is another SSD movie, would you love to direct one?
Crystal Lowe – You know, in the beginning I wanted to direct and episode of Signed, Sealed, Delivered and it was a goal of mine. We have one director that directs them all and he’s kind of our through voice with Martha. The only thing about directing an episode that I think I would not want to do yet is if I was in it because they are two different beasts for me right now. When I’m directing, I am full on with the directing.
With The Curtain, I was trying to find unique ways to tell stories through color and light. The next thing I direct, I will try and tell a story through shapes. I try to look at is as an art piece and I want to make sure I do it justice even though I am in it. Directing is something that I truly love and it feels like a perfect fit and I can’t wait to do more of it.
Pop Culture Principle – If this is the final Signed, Sealed, Delivered, will the fans be satisfied with the ending of To The Altar?
Crystal Lowe – I think if this is the final one, they will be. Martha always, always thinks about the fans. She brings it up every table read. She talks about how dedicated they are and how dedicated she is to them. She always has them in mind and never wants them to leave feeling stressed. I don’t think the POstables will ever be satisfied because they want us to keep going, but she definitely wrote it in a way that feels good.
Pop Culture Principle – What would you like to say to the fans who have watched and supported this franchise since the pilot?
Crystal Lowe – Some of the POstables had never used Twitter before and joined Twitter just to help with our campaign which I think speaks volumes and there is power there. What I would like to say to the POstables is that if this is the last movie, please take the passion that you had for this show and remember that the passion you had was for the hope and the light that it provided to the world.
I know they care about us as characters and the story, but what they really cared about was the message underneath it. So please, take that passion, that fight and that same strength that they’ve shown just for this and put it out in their communities. The POstables are definitely a force to reckon with and they can make change. One person can make a massive change!
A big thank you to Crystal Lowe for chatting with us! Don’t forget, Signed, Sealed, Delivered: To The Altar will premiere on the Hallmark Movies & Mysteries channel on Sunday, July 15th at 9/8c.
**Photos Copyright 2018 Crown Media United States LLC/Photographer: Sergei Bachlakov**